Is It Any Wonder?

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This article is about the Keane song. For other uses, see Is It Any Wonder? (disambiguation).
"Is It Any Wonder?"
Single by Keane
from the album Under the Iron Sea
B-side "Let It Slide"
"He Used to Be a Lovely Boy"
Released 29 May 2006
Format 7" vinyl
CD single
Download
Recorded Heliocentric Studios, Rye, East Sussex
The Magic Shop, NY
Genre Alternative rock, pop rock
Length 3:06
Label Island
Producer(s) Andy Green
Keane singles chronology
"Atlantic"
(2006)
"Is It Any Wonder?"
(2006)
"Crystal Ball"
(2006)
Under the Iron Sea track listing
"Atlantic"
(1)
"Is It Any Wonder?"
(2)
"Nothing in My Way"
(3)

"Is It Any Wonder?" is a song performed and composed by English alternative rock band Keane, released as the second single from their second studio album, Under the Iron Sea. The song is also the first Keane single to be sold in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

The single was released to the iTunes Store on 16 May and to shops on 29 May 2006, and debuted at #15 in the UK Singles Chart on 28 May based on download sales alone but reached #3 with physical sales on 4 June.[1] The song was officially premiered on 17 April on Jo Whiley's BBC Radio 1 show. Soon after this, it was leaked into the Internet.

The song was featured on the UK compilation Now That's What I Call Music! 64, the soundtrack of the 2006 film Ice Age: The Meltdown and in the video games Madden NFL 07[2] and Dance Dance Revolution Universe 2. The song was nominated for the Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal for the 2007 Grammy Awards.

Composition and recording[edit]

"Is It Any Wonder?" was composed by Tim Rice-Oxley in 2005, being first demoed the same year. The guitar effects originate from Tim's pianos and synthesizers. An early demo appeared on the Under the Iron Sea DVD. It was mainly recorded at The Magic Shop studios, New York and programmed and engineered by Andy Green.

Musical structure[edit]

"Is It Any Wonder?" was composed under an 8-beat 4/4 time signature and a 130 bpm tempo. The main key of the riff is A major, alternating to G major when the bass starts playing. At least three different synthesizer sounds are used through the song.

The riff starts with a deep guitar sound to prelude the distortion synthesizer sound. Then, the bass and the drums begin to finally introduce Tom Chaplin with the vocals of the first verse. As with almost all Keane songs, it includes a bridge after the second chorus, preceding the outro. Live performances show several differences from the studio version. Firstly, the deep sound is changed for the same synthesizer used for the whole song, which is also quite different from the one of the studio album. During the first verse of the original version, only synthesizer strings are used as a background for Chaplin's singing. However, on the live performance, Rice-Oxley keeps playing his distorted Yamaha CP70 through all the song. Finally, drumming on the main riffs is modified, with Hughes beating the crash cymbal again and again.

Meaning[edit]

The song is about the Iraq War:

It's probably the one song on the record that most expresses our dismay and confusion about what it means to be a British citizen, in terms of what our society's contributing to the world at large," Rice-Oxley explains. "It's very hard to make sense of why Britain feels it needs to sign up with George Bush's attacks on Iraq and the whole Afghanistan thing. It feels like there's a whole lot of trouble brewing up over Iran, and you just don't know where it's going to end. On a personal level, for people of our age, it's really unsettling...[3][4]

The song is not an attempt at some sort of wide-sweeping political statement, it's just about just seeing things from a personal level - what are you supposed to believe, what is actually right? How can you work out what is the truth, and what is the right thing to do? And there's so many different opinions, and you're supposed to have an opinion on what your country is doing, and yet it is so hard to even begin to gather all the facts. It's really distressing thing for people of our generation I think, the feeling of not being able to do anything about that. I guess that was something we were all feeling very acutely in the song. And I think the sounds of the song sum that up in a very tangible way.[4]

Music video[edit]

Directed by Kevin Godley, the video is almost the same throughout the song. A camera moves along a metal track like a roller coaster. The camera runs through rails until the end of it, stopping again. Keane are in the middle of it, with Tom appearing sometimes on the scene. On the making of the video, it is said by Richard that they "have done something not quite done before."[this quote needs a citation] The CD+DVD edition of Under the Iron Sea includes a trailer for the making of the video, as well as the videoclip.

Cover art and packaging[edit]

The cover artwork for the single was designed by Sanna Annukka Smith, a Finnish artist in March 2006. Sanna originally wanted a red bird crying and Keane wanted a lonely soldier. During the first two weeks of April, the cover showed a soldier but the definite version shows the red bird crying on the soldier’s shoulder, with the soldier referring to war. Some versions didn't include the bird, like the first cover. The crying bird later appeared on the cover for "Try Again".

Similar to the bookshaped box of the DVD for Under the Iron Sea, this biodegradable single's container is made of carbon neutral and recycled materials, without any plastics.

Track listing[edit]

CD single Catalogue number: CID934, digital download
No. Title Length
1. "Is It Any Wonder?"   3:08
2. "Let It Slide"   4:10
3. "He Used to Be a Lovely Boy"   3:38
7" vinyl Catalogue number: IS934
No. Title Length
1. "Is It Any Wonder?"   3:08
2. "Let It Slide"   4:10

B-sides[edit]

Let It Slide[edit]

The Under the Iron Sea DVD includes bass recording sessions of this song. It was planned to be a track on the album, but released as a B-side. It did appear on the Japanese version of Under the Iron Sea as the closing track.

He Used to Be a Lovely Boy[edit]

Following a melancholic ballad style, the song suggest a reference to Chaplin by Rice-Oxley. This acoustic song has been compared by fans to Keane's Christmas song "A Heart to Hold You", and B-side "The Way You Want It".

Technical information on songs[edit]

Song Length Tempo Key Time signature Genre
"Is It Any Wonder?" 3:06 129bpm A 4/4 on 8 beats Rock
"Let It Slide" 4:11 130bpm C♯ 4/4 on 8 beats Rock
"He Used to Be a Lovely Boy" 3:38 65bpm G 4/4 Acoustic ballad

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2006) Peak
position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[5] 47
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[6] 38
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[7] 3
France (SNEP)[8] 72
Germany (Media Control Charts)[9] 61
Ireland (IRMA)[10] 18
Italy (FIMI)[11] 18
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[12] 7
Norway (VG-lista)[13] 12
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[14] 3
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[15] 28
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[16] 3
US Billboard Hot 100 78
US Billboard Adult Top 40 19
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 4
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 18
US Billboard Pop 100 63

References[edit]

External links[edit]